Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF)

The American Library in Paris is proud to be the organizer of the Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF).  YAFF is a the only creative writing initiative that aims to strengthen community among English-speakers in the Paris area through the art and craft of storytelling. The Library believes that creative writing plays an important role in a child’s literacy development. Creative writing is fun and a great tool to help broaden a child’s imagination and foster a life-long love of reading and writing.

YAFF is free of charge and open to all students ages 5-18 in the greater Paris area who write in English. The Young Authors Fiction Festival originated as The Red Wheelbarrow Writing Contest, which began in 2001 with l’Ecole Massillon and a handful of Paris-based members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), who acted as judges. YAFF is now a highlight of Library programming and the only creative writing initiative for children in Paris. In 2019 YAFF had 841 entries submitted from than 50 schools and writing programs and we hope that this will continue to grow. The YAFF team consists of Library staff and volunteers and includes the involvement of over 90 judges from the Library’s community and beyond.

We encourage parents, teachers, educators, and schools to help nurture and develop a passion and practice for creative writing in children. The Library offers many resources for creative writing, including books, creative games, and writing workshops offered many times throughout the year. Together, and with YAFF, the Library hopes to raise and nurture the next generation of writers and authors!

YAFF2019 Banner

The 2019 Young Authors Fiction Festival

The 2019 Young Authors Fiction Festival is now complete. This year’s YAFF was our biggest yet, with 841 submissions from 50 schools. The stories were  judged in two rounds, over April and May and results were announced on 26 May to all participants, including the finalists.

The YAFF Celebration was held at the Library on Friday 14 June and 1st to 5th place winners were be announced, with the winners receiving certificates and personalized bookmarks, with a comment from a judge who read their story. Pictures from the event can be viewed on the Library’s Flickr page  and a full list of the 2019 winners here on the Library blog. The winning stories were published in two YAFF Celebration Booklets that were available for  sale at the celebration and have also been added to the Library collection

The Library is grateful to the dedicated and enthusiastic YAFF committee who made YAFF 2019 a success. The Library’s Assistant Children’s and Teen’s Services Librarian Kirsty McCulloch Reid coordinated YAFF 2019, with volunteers Molly Belhiteche, Courtney Bowers, Brooke Burns, David Lawrence, Lucy McCloskey and Katherine Youngblood. Library staff members Celeste Rhoads, Pauline Lemasson and Morgan Wurzburger were also on the 2019 committee and extend their thanks to Library director Audrey Chapuis for her support and guidance.

The YAFF 2019 Committee would like to thank the 94 judges who volunteered their time and expertise to read the stories entered as well as the volunteers who helped at the YAFF Celebration. A special thank you goes to volunteers Amandine Doubre and Caitlin Scheske for their graphic design work for YAFF 2019.

The Library would like to thank the Roaming School House and the British Council for their support of YAFF 2019. Thank you to all the teachers, parents, and young authors for making this a great year for YAFF.

For questions, contact the YAFF Team at

Information about YAFF 2020 will be available on this page in January 2020 and announced via the Library’s e-newsletter and social media.

YAFF 2019 in partnership with the

For a full list of all the 2019 YAFF winners, read the Library blog. or check out the 2019 YAFF Celebration Booklets from the Library collection. For more photos from the 2019 Celebration, and previous YAFF Celebrations, check out  the Library’s Flickr page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Spread the word about the YAFF among students and staff at your school and encourage them to participate. Paper your school/institution, library or bookstore with the YAFF flyer and guidelines (YAFF 2020 guidelines will be available in January 2020). Please forward this events page to all other teachers you know for more details.

Further information about YAFF 2020 will be posted on this page in January 2020.

If you are a teacher and would like to support YAFF by judging for the festival please contact for information.

For YAFF 2020:

ONE (1) original story per student written between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020.

All stories must:

  • Have a clear beginning, middle, and end;
  • Respect the following word limit, longer pieces will not be accepted:
    • 750 words for grades K-5 / GS-CM2
    • 1000 words for grades 6-12 / collége-lycée
  • Be typed, using Times New Roman or Arial fonts, 12 point, double-spaced, with one-inch (2.5 cm) margins. No handwritten work, illustrations or color print, in a .DOC format. No PDF files allowed.
  • Submitted by the deadline. (To be announced January 2020).

Stories that do not meet these criteria will not be entered into the Festival. The YAFF Submissions team will check stories before they are entered into the Festival. If a story does not meet the guidelines, the author may be given time to make any necessary changes but only if there is ample time before the deadline. If there is no time to make changes the story will not be entered into the Festival.

The Young Authors Fiction Festival is absolutely free of charge to enter.

All qualifying entries must be submitted by the deadline or they cannot be entered into the festival. The YAFF 2020 deadline will be announced in January 2020.

All stories must be within the word count requirements. If you submit a story that contains more words, we will send it back for further editing so that it falls within the guidelines (maximum of 750 words for students in GS/Kindergarden-CM2/5th Grade and maximum of 1,000 words for students in 6éme/6th Grade-Terminale/12th Grade.)

No, only the body text count towards the word count.

Each submission to YAFF must be original: the participant must come up with the content and write the story on their own. Parents and teachers are encouraged to help only insofar as they create “teachable moments”, e.g., guiding young writers through revisions by asking questions instead of giving answers. For example, asking “can you express this idea in fewer words?” to help a child write more concisely or “we can look that word up in the dictionary” for spelling help.  Fan-fiction or using another author’s characters or setting is not deemed as original work. Any stories not deemed as original work will not be eligible for top honors or publication. We require that all students pledge on their honor that their submission is their own original work.

Part of the objective of YAFF is to help young people develop new skills and a deeper understanding of the English language. We like to avoid, if at all possible, that parents or teachers correct the “mistakes” for the students. But neither do we want teachers/parents to have so light a touch that a potentially good story submission doesn’t make the grade due to issues that might easily have been improved upon, while teaching new skills at the same time.

We suggest that parents have young children write out their story, then type it up for them including any spelling or grammar mistakes. That way the story that is submitted is indeed the original work of the child.

Absolutely! Please make sure to submit each student’s story as a separate entry. For each student please complete the online submission form with the student’s and their parents’ contact information. Teacher’s cannot give permission for their students’ photos to be taken or their stories to be published only parents have the authority to do this. Please keep this in mind when completing the submission form. If a teacher completes the form for a student we will contact the parent to ask for their permission so it is important we have their contact details.

When you complete the online submission form to enter the contest both the French and American Grades are listed and you chose the correct grade for the participant. The age of the participant is also asked for on the form just to ensure entry to the correct grade.  If your child does not follow a French or American system, we encourage you to find the French/American grade equivalent so we can ensure their submission is entered into the appropriate category. If you need help with this please don’t hesitate to contact

The YAFF team will send an e-mail within a few days after submitting your story, letting you know if the story meets the YAFF guidelines. (If it doesn’t, then we’ll offer some suggestions to help you modify it). If you don’t receive an e-mail within one week, please contact the YAFF team at

Not at all. All stories are judged independently of entry information except for the title of the story and the age / grade of the author.

Why we ask for consent:

At the Celebration Event photos are taken of the winners to be used on the Library website announcing the Festival winners. If you do not give permission for your children’s photo to be taken we will do our best to ensure their photo is not taken at the event and not published with the winners announcement.  The winning stories are published in a YAFF Celebration Booklet which is added to the Library collection and is available for purchase at the Celebration Event. The Library also publishes some of the winning stories on the Library website. If you do not give permission for your child’s story to be published, then if they come in 1st -5th place their story will not be included in the Celebration Booklet or published online. Please keep this in mind when giving or withholding your permission for your child’s photo and story.

The goal of YAFF is to encourage and support children and young adults to complete a creative written project. The winning stories from 1st -5th from each grade are published in a YAFF Celebration Booklet by the Library. The Celebration Booklet is added to the Library collection and is available to purchase at the Celebration Event. All participants of YAFF are invited to attend the Celebration Event normally scheduled in mid-June, where we honor all the writers and announce the winners of the YAFF.

YAFF culminates in a Celebration Event at the American Library in Paris in mid June. Details of the 2020 YAFF Celebration Event will be announced in March 2020. At the YAFF Celebration Event we honor all participating authors and burgeoning storytellers as well as announce the finalists. Finalists will be notified prior to the event, but all young authors are encouraged to attend this celebration of writing.

YAFF is free of charge to enter. To keep the YAFF free the Library relies on the support of many volunteers and donations.

Volunteering on the YAFF committee or as a judge.

In 2019 we had 94 volunteer judges to read the 841 submitted stories. We are extremely grateful to them for dedicating their free time to YAFF. The YAFF submission team is also made up of volunteers with a Library staff member coordinating YAFF.

If you are interested in supporting YAFF and would like to volunteer your time as a judge or member of the YAFF team please contact with your details, any experience you have with children and/or writing and why you would like to judge or help with the festival.

You can also support YAFF in other ways if you are unable to judge, so if you would like to contribute your time and talents please get in touch.We always need more judges and other help and to support YAFF.

Donating to the Library or Sponsoring YAFF

Businesses or individuals can also support YAFF by monetary donation, becoming the sponsor for YAFF 2020 or by purchasing an advertisement in the YAFF Celebration Booklet. In 2019 the British Council and the Roaming School House supported YAFF and the Library is grateful to them for ensuring the growth and success of YAFF 2019. For further information about supporting YAFF 2020 please contact